Dental Terminology

Click on a letter for the list of terms beginning with that letter. This glossary contains a list of words or terms that may help you get a handle on the world of dental care.


Maintenance, Periodontal

therapy for preserving the state of health of the periodontium.


pertaining to the cheek bone; see Zygomatic Bone.


having the properties of dysplasia, invasion, and metastasis.


improper alignment of biting or chewing surfaces of upper and lower teeth.

Managed Care

refers to a cost containment system that directs the utilization of health benefits by: a. restricting the type, level and frequency of treatment; b. limiting the access to care; and c. controlling the level of reimbursement for services.

Maryland Bridge

fixed partial denture featuring conservative retainers which are resin bonded to abutments; see Code D6545.


the upper jaw.

Maximum Allowance

the maximum dollar amount a dental program will pay toward the cost of a dental service as specified in the program’s contract provisions, e.g., UCR, Table of Allowances

Maximum Benefit

the maximum dollar amount a program will pay toward the cost of dental care incurred by an individual or family in a specified period, usually a calendar year.

Maximum Fee Schedule

a compensation arrangement in which a participating dentist agrees to accept a prescribed sum as the total fee for one or more covered services.


a federal assistance program established as Title XIX under the Social Security Act of 1965 which provides payment for medical care for certain low income individuals and families. The program is funded jointly by the state and federal governments and administered by states.

Medically Necessary Care

the reasonable and appropriate diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up care (including supplies, appliances and devices) as determined and prescribed by qualified, appropriate health care providers in treating any condition, illness, disease, injury, or birth developmental malformations. Care is medically necessary for the purpose of: controlling or eliminating infection, pain, and disease; and restoring facial configuration or function necessary for speech, swallowing or chewing.


toward the midline of the dental arch; opposite of distal.

Metals, Classification of

the noble metal classification system has been adopted as a more precise method of reporting various alloys used in dentistry. The alloys are defined on the basis of the percentage of noble metal content: high noble - Gold (Au), Palladium (Pd), and/or Platinum (Pt) > 60% (with at least 40% Au); noble - Gold (Au), Palladium (Pd), and/or Platinum (Pt)> 25%; and predominantly base - Gold (Au), Palladium (Pd), and/or Platinum (Pt) < 25%.


teeth posterior to the premolars (bicuspids) on either side of the jaw; grinding teeth, having large crowns and broad chewing surfaces.


a positive reproduction of a body part formed on a cast from a negative impression.

Mucous Membrane

lining of the oral cavity as well as other canals and cavities of the body; also called “mucosa.”